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Xcel Energy gives $2,000 grant to Friends of Freedom Park

Friends of Freedom Park Executive Director Jessica Bierbrauer (right) accepts the $2,000 grant award from Trudy Popenhagen Xcel Energy Community Service Manager (left).1 / 2
Students at Hillcrest Elementary in Ellsworth enjoy learning through role-playing during an interactive Fur Trade game.2 / 2

The Friends of Freedom Park is pleased to announce a grant of $2,000.00 from Xcel Energy for educational programs offered by the Great River Road Visitor and Learning Center at Freedom Park.  The grant supports the Traveling Naturalist programs, which bring exciting hands-on nature and history lessons directly into classrooms in Western Wisconsin and surrounding communities. 

The Rocks and Minerals Program and the Fur Trade Program are curriculum-based classroom lessons that support teachers in meeting state educational standards and benchmarks for grade levels 3 and 4.  The grade 3 Rocks and Minerals program features hands-on rock identification and testing activities designed to build critical scientific study skills, including observation and investigation, in an age-appropriate manner.  The grade 4Fur Trade program brings the history of the Wisconsin fur trade to life with an interactive game designed to build students’ teamwork and critical thinking skills against a complex historical backdrop of business and survival needs. By featuring native mammal furs and early trade artifacts and objects, the program builds knowledge and appreciation of local plant and animal life.  These educational programs are available to all area schools at no charge by advance reservation. For information about the Traveling Naturalist programs or to schedule a program, please call Jessica Bierbrauer at 715-262-0104, or


The Friends of Freedom Park is a non-profit organization whose mission is to support the operations and educational programs of the Great River Road Learning Center. The Center is one of 62 Interpretive Centers on the Great River Road and has had over 120,000 visitors and 20,000 people participate in its programs and events since opening in May 2006.